A Walk Through the Eight Neighborhoods of Santa Monica

Meet the Eight Distinct Enclaves of Los Angeles’ Beach City and Their Must-See Experiences From Shopping and Dining to Wellness and Culture

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — At the heart of the Santa Monica experience are eight distinctive neighborhoods, each infused with a wealth of personality and attractions in the city’s 8.3 square miles. These defined districts rich with character allow travelers to live like a local during their trip. Visitors can set out on a shopping tour on Main Street or up Montana Avenue or jump on the Metro E Line to Downtown Los Angeles from Downtown Santa Monica. They can dine their way down Pico Boulevard, discover Mid-City’s arts scene or visit landmarks like the Santa Monica Pier.

Downtown Santa Monica / Third Street Promenade

Located just blocks east of the Pier, Santa Monica’s downtown hub is a retail-therapy destination featuring everything from high-end designer finds to on-trend home décor. With more than 100 restaurants, Downtown also serves as a diner’s paradise for those looking to indulge. The famed Third Street Promenade, an open-air, pedestrian-only street features dozens of retailers and offers lively street entertainment and events like outdoor movie screenings and popular farmers markets. The neighborhood also includes nine hotel properties to choose from and a Metro E Line station that connects Downtown Santa Monica to Downtown Los Angeles by rail, allowing visitors to stay by the coast while easily exploring the rest of the region.

Santa Monica Pier/ Ocean Avenue

Ocean Avenue is famous for its idyllic coastline, cool ocean breezes and the 115-year-old Santa Monica Pier – home to Pacific Park with its towering, solar-powered Pacific Wheel. Miles of sandy shores populated with surfers and sunbathers along with hotel properties like the hotly anticipated Regent Hotel and the historic Georgian Hotel – a favorite of Hollywood stars Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin – define this iconic neighborhood. Visitors can’t miss the sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and the chance to snap a picture on the Pier in front of the “End of the Route” sign for the legendary Route 66, which officially ends its 2,500-mile journey just a few blocks away. 

Main Street

Main Street is located just south of the Pier and two blocks from the beach with a charming neighborhood feel that makes it a favorite for local Santa Monica residents and visitors from around the globe. This sun-drenched street stretches for nearly a mile, beckoning foodies, shoppers and wellness fanatics to its laid-back blend of restaurants, fitness studios and boutiques. Once affectionately known as “Dogtown,” the neighborhood is considered by many to be the birthplace of skateboarding on the West Coast. Additionally, visitors and residents flock to Heritage Square for the weekly farmers market, which features live music and free valet parking for cyclists. Just two blocks west of Main Street is Ocean Park Beach, a five-acre park just south of the Santa Monica Pier. 

Montana Avenue

This picturesque, tree-lined street is known for its upscale boutiques, quaint restaurants and the historic movie theater The Aero. Sitting at the city’s northern edge, the 10-block stretch between 10th and 17th streets boasts more than 150 retailers and restaurants. During the daylight hours the street hums with stylish locals, A-list celebrities and visitors sipping espressos in chic cafes and browsing shops from high-end designers – all with a welcoming and laid-back luxury vibe.


Accessible by major thoroughfares Wilshire Boulevard and Interstate 10 as well as two Metro E Line stations, Mid-City is a burgeoning arts district anchored by destinations like the BroadStage, 18th Street Arts Center and the community-focused Bergamot Station, the home to 18 art galleries and live performances. A diverse array of food and beverage options adds to the neighborhood’s appeal like the famed Tartine Bakery and Santa Monica Brew Works. Travelers will also find accommodations available at five hotel options including The Ambrose Hotel.

Ocean Park Boulevard / Santa Monica Airport Area

With its trendy eateries, four family-friendly parks, artisan shops and museum, Ocean Park Boulevard offers a variety of sights. The Santa Monica Airport – servicing private and charter planes – is the long-time home of the Museum of Flying. First opened in 1974, the aviation museum reopened in 2012 and houses a trove of historic aircraft and a modern flight simulator. Other attractions include community-oriented nursery Merrihew’s Sunset Gardens, a twice-monthly antique market held at the airport and The Ruskin Group Theatre. Ocean Park Boulevard runs from the sand to the city’s eastern edge with endless local gems to be found in between.

Pico Boulevard

Anchored by Santa Monica State Beach, Santa Monica College and Virginia Avenue Park, Pico Boulevard’s shop- and café-lined blocks are at the heart of city life. This bustling boulevard connects Santa Monica State Beach from the west to Downtown Los Angeles in the east and runs through some of the area’s most diverse neighborhoods. More than 50 large-scale murals adorn the boulevard’s 35 blocks thanks to the community initiative Beauty Earth alongside a variety of hotels, delicious restaurants and locally-owned boutiques.

Wilshire Boulevard

This well-traveled thoroughfare claims the stunning Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows and Santa Monica Proper Hotel, cutting-edge workout studios, unique retailers and landmark restaurants. Beginning at Ocean Avenue and running through Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and ending in Downtown Los Angeles, Wilshire Boulevard is one of the most well-known streets in town. It borders the Third Street Promenade on its southwestern edge and the hugely popular Douglas Park, known for its playing fields and lawn bowling. 



Santa Monica Travel & Tourism is a nonprofit organization chartered to strengthen the local economy by promoting our community as a vibrant, accessible and inclusive travel destination. For more information, visit santamonica.com, email info@santamonica.com, or follow us on Instagram (@SeeSantaMonica), Facebook (@VisitSantaMonica) and X/Twitter (@GoSantaMonica).


Discover Santa Monica

Explore itineraries, local tips, hot spots and curated adventures to make sure you get the most out of your Santa Monica experience.

View more Blogs